State group praises Osos district leader

Marshall Ochylski, president of the Los Osos Community Services District, has been given the Board President of the Year Award for 2012 by the California Special Districts Association.

The award honors a board president from the group’s more than 1,000 members who showed “effectiveness, excellence in leadership and accomplishments.” In Ochylski’s case, the group cited his efforts to lead the district out of bankruptcy.

The district declared bankruptcy in 2006 following a decision to halt construction of a sewage treatment and collection system. The district faced about $45 million in debts, fines and claims.

A bankruptcy court approved a debt adjustment plan, which reached its final settlement in April.

Ochylski, an attorney, was an active part in the mediations and appeared as the sole witness for the district in the hearings.

Despite its financial difficulties, the district was recently able to purchase a new fire engine. Also, its water rates are among the lowest in the county and its garbage collection rates are the lowest, Ochylski said.

“I remain optimistic that by working together, the district can continue to provide cost-effective services of the highest quality to the residents of our community,” he said.

The special district association represents a variety of independent districts including utility, water, irrigation, harbor and cemetery districts as well as community services districts.